Manor Park

Volunteers spring to action into Manor Park (March Volunteer Morning)

We ran our 2nd volunteer morning of the year on Saturday 12th March. Once again the weather was very kind to us – sunshine and light breezes.

By 10am we were all set up with the gazebo, refreshment table, along with all our tools and other equipment.

We never know who is going to turn up on the day, but as usual we weren’t to be disappointed. A good size group were congregated around the gazebo by kick-off. We had a quite few new volunteers, who’d been attracted our posters along Malden Road.

Tasks for the day were litter-picking, hedge planting and woodland maintenance. The latter involved widening a cut-through between the senior football pitches and the wild area in the far corner of the park.

All three tasks posed no difficulties for our enthusiastic volunteers.

The hedge which runs along the back of the houses near the junior football pitches, will create a real legacy, providing a great new habitat for wildlife for many decades to come.

The cut-through at the back simply makes it more likely that people will venture into the wild meadow area. We also hope that it will make this space feel less intimidating for people walking around the park by themselves.

We had a handful of amazing junior helpers who helped pick litter and spread woodchip mulch around the base of the wildlife hedge.

The Friends of Manor Park team enjoyed meeting everyone. A massive thank you to all who attended.

Note:

  • The next big happening in the park is the installation of the new playground. It’s going be really special. We will arrange a little get together to celebrate the opening.
  • Every Thursday volunteers litter pick in the park. Anyone can join. Just bring a litterpick and a plastic bag.
  • Our large Saturday volunteers mornings will resume in September, however we may put out a call for volunteers for smaller task in the meantime.

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Manor Park

Our February Volunteer Morning

Back in Manor Park working with the community to make our lovely space that little bit nicer….

The weather forecast was looking good for our February Volunteer Morning, and it didn’t disappoint. Saturday 5th February started bright and brisk.

The Friends team set up the gazebo and he tea station just after 9am. Always nice to see the team and catch-up.

The gloves, gardening tools, litter-picks, wheel-barrows were lined up and ready. Fiona was poised with the council’s design plans for the playground, which we were hoping to show to the park users.

By 10am a group of about 30 volunteers had appeared, which included many of our regulars, and was bolstered by the presence of 4 prospective council candidates for the forthcoming May elections.

We ran through the tasks for the day, which included: improving the boggy areas around the path that runs parallel with the railway line, by adding word-chip; hedge planting towards the car park; widening an opening between the adult football pitches and the rear meadow; and litter-picking.

Elliot Newton, who is responsible for Kingston Council’s bio-diversity activities, joined us and amongst other things, started us off with a tool safety talk.

We then split into groups and headed off to embark on our tasks.

Fantastic progress was made. The wildlife hedge grew by another 20 metres.

The cut-through was widened. We’re trying to create clear sight-lines into the rear meadow area.

 

The boggy area along the pathway was filled in, helped by our uniformed friends.

Adding woodchip to help fill puddles and muddy patches on the path behind the bowls club

The police arrived shortly after we started, and joined in with the tasks. We love it when the ward team help out. Always interesting hearing about local crime. A few good stories.

Meantime at basecamp, Annabel marshalled park users over to the gazebo to look at the playground plans and give feedback to Fiona, who’s been leading this project for the Friends team.

Tea break was at 11:30am. It’s always a great opportunity to get together to chat with our neighbours. Elliot Newton gave a talk on the wildlife in the park and the borough. The gathered children peppered him with interesting questions.

One of our local parents, Yvonna, arrived with her boys and a painted bat box they’d assembled. We mounted this in one of the trees in the Bluebell Copse. Hopefully, this will become the home to a few of our local bats. We have a good few in the park.

The final hour of the workday saw all tasks completed. We packed away the gazebo, the tools, and headed our separate ways.

A massive thank you to all our wonderful volunteers, and to Elliot Newton for supporting the event.

Our next workday is on Saturday 12th March. More information.

If you’d like to get more involved with Friends of Manor Park, please do drop us a line at team@ourmanorpark.org.uk

(Photographs courtesy of James Campbell Insta @jamesryancampbell)

Great to be back in the park for our Autumn Volunteer Morning

Volunteer Morning – Saturday 19th October

We’d postponed our Volunteer morning by a week to avoid the torrential rains of the previous weekend. We were rewarded with a very mild, and dry, Autumnal day.

As usual the Friends team, Fiona, Bryn, Nausheen and myself, were on site early to get our base-camp area set-up, supported by a couple of regulars – James, the photographer, and Malcolm.

We’d put in place extra precautions to protect our volunteers during this COVID crisis – these included clean/dirty tool areas, brand new gloves, registration, and social distanced working groups.

We had no idea how many people would come down today – given the current state of affairs. As it turned, we were not to be disappointed. We had a fantastic turn-out, with lots of regular faces, and some new faces. Everyone was very respectful of the safety measures we’d put in place. A massive thank-you to everyone who came down and who made such a huge effort to get our park looking great.

(Video – Fiona Sowell)

We did have a few people litter-picking, but it is testament to the hard work of the weekday group that we only managed to fill up two large bags with rubbish. We did find a set of golf clubs. Not sure how they got there!

With so many people on site, we were able to take on lots of jobs. The pond area was cleared-back and opened-up. We want to avoid the pond space becoming overgrown and dark.

Our volunteers worked hard to spread wood-chip on the path around the pond, the path across the private land, and the one that goes past the bird-feeders at the back of the park. A lot of bramble was removed at the front near the road, and some of the trees here had their lower branches removed to help open-up sight-lines and improve the shape of their crowns. At the back of the park a cut-through between the rear sports field and the rear meadow was re-opened, and wood-chip spread through here. These cut-throughs make the space more interesting to walk around.

Apart from the fact that lots of work was done, I also reflect on how lovely it was being out working in the park with our fellow neighbours. What a great sense of comradery and common purpose there was. There’s no doubt that these events are very good for our mental as well as physical well-being.

We all have a shared interest in our local park, and many have come to really appreciate the amenity it has offered us during lockdown and afterwards. As a community we’ll keep working to protect and improve this wonderful space.

(Thank-you to Andy Robinson, Community Manager, idverde, for organising the tools and the wood-chip deliveries, and also to Elliot Newton for lending additional tools from your Citizen Zoo tool stash. Once again thanks to James Campbell taking photos).

 

(Photograph by James Campbell)

(Photograph by James Campbell)

(Photograph by James Campbell)

(Photograph by James Campbell)

(Photograph by James Campbell)

(Photograph by James Campbell)

(Photograph by James Campbell)

(Photograph by James Campbell)

(Photograph by James Campbell)

(Photograph by James Campbell)

 

 

Opening up the overgrown cut-through at the back of the park

Anyone missing some golf clubs?

Dreadful swing..

The wild-side of Old Malden

Simeon Linstead, Chair of Friends of Manor Park, interviews local wildlife expert, Elliot Newton, about the wildlife you might (or might not expect) to find at Manor Park and at the Hogsmill River.

Elliot was one of the team that made this wonderful film about the Hogsmill River.

Manor Park Scavenger Hunt

What better way to get your kids out for an exercise than with the NEW Manor Park Scavenger Hunt. Created by Amy Odero, this scavenger hunt will appeal to younger children, helping them to explore the park.

Will they be able to find one of our community bat boxes or the seasonal pond?

Many thanks Amy.

Manor Park

NatureFest in Manor Park

Nature is our thing

The Friends of Manor Park is a community group set up to protect and improve Manor Park. Nature and wildlife have been central to a lot of our volunteer work, from restoring wooded areas and the seasonal pond, planting wild-flowers and bulbs, to installing community bird-boxes and our new bird-feeding station.

Last year…

Last year we ran Nature Day, which was a rather low-key event. We sowed wildflowers, did some general woodland maintenance and laid on a handful of nature activities for the cubs and local children. We had a pretty good turn-out.

….but this year….

This year we wanted to step it up a gear (or two), so we came up with a name – ‘NatureFest’ and the brief that we wanted a nature themed event, come celebration in the park. Our newest team member, Nausheen Arnold, put herself forward to organise it.

Local business backers

It wasn’t long before she was reporting back with some positive news about the growing and impressive event line-up. We wanted the event to be really good, so Fiona Sowell, who’s been with the group right from start, spoke with a handful of local businesses who said they’d bank-roll the event. Our main sponsor was Worcester Park Tiles, and we had also had financial support from Jazz Barbers, Dental Sense and Bruce Elliot.

All set to go

And so it was, after a several months of sweat and tears, (actually it was all very calm), we stood in the middle of the park on Saturday 18th May surrounded by a colourful assortment of gazebos sheltering a number of wildlife organisations, a nature crafting activity area and several food stalls (including a very posh looking coffee van), a massive green tractor courtesy of idverde the park contractor, various elegant birds of prey were lined up on perches, a hall full of reptiles, a very accomplished looking musical act, and a disco bouncy-castle. A team of wonderful helpers were at the ready (comprised of a lot of familiar faces – people who often volunteer their time).

A substantial crowd

The weather had been forecast to be chilly and overcast, but as luck would have it the day brightened up and was actually rather warm. So, before we knew it, the park started to fill and it wasn’t long before we had quite a substantial crowd milling about. The band played wonderfully, creating just the right atmosphere. We had a queue of people buying tokens for the reptile display and the bouncy castle. Children took part in a selection of crafting activities from making finger snakes to edible wild-bird treats. Our face painting artist transformed many a child into a zebra, ferocious lion or other wild creature.

Even the Green Man turned up…..

Wildlife talks

Throughout the day we ran a programme of wildlife talks – from the nature in the park to hedgehogs. These talks were led by our friend Elliot Newton from conservation upstarts Citizen Zoo, who’s mission it is to re-wild our natural spaces (and us). He’s been instrumental in the conservation work we do in Manor Park – our go-to expert. Elliot also led a pond-dipping activity, which the children absolutely loved. And no one fell in.

Falconry display

The falconry displays were probably the high point of the day. At least two hundred people surrounded the flying arena each time, where a very interactive show took place. Owls and eagles swooping low over the heads of the children sitting on the grass.

Snakes, lizards and spiders

In the hall various snakes, lizards and some rather large spiders entertained the onlookers. I latterly saw a photo of a white snake wrapping itself around the neck of one of my daughter’s friends. She seemed far too relaxed.

The park was full of life

It was lovely seeing the park so busy. We’d kicked off just as the junior football league were finishing their trials, the bowls club was also having its open day (its busiest yet we’ve been told), and behind us in the rear sports field a cricket game went on all afternoon.

Friends of Manor Park

We had lots of visitors to the Friends of Manor Park gazebo, including some of our local councillors, Des Kay from Save the World Club (the people behind the Malden Manor Mosaic) dressed up as the Green Man, other Friends groups to many locals interested in our work to create a strategic master-plan for Manor Park. Our landscape architect was on hand to answer questions. The first major investment you’ll see in Manor Park will be a revamped playground – hopefully this side of Christmas.

A sudden downpour

Anyway, before we knew it the event was over and the stallholders were packing up. We were surprised how many people were still hanging around, however a very heavy downpour 15 minutes after we finished soon emptied the park.

A BIG thank-you

A big thank-you to everyone who showed their support by attending or helping in some way. We’ve had lots of great feedback, and it is our intention to put on an even bigger NatureFest next year, so watch this space.

Get involved with Friends of Manor Park

Do keep an eye out on what we’re up to – either check out our website, follow us on Facebook or just drop us an email at team@ourmanorpark.org.uk We’ve just kicked off our Friend for Life membership – so do drop us an email and we’ll send you details. We’ll put up a new form shortly – ‘just been a little busy of late :-).

Get involved in NatureFest 2020

If you or your organisation would like to get involved next year, then do drop us a line, we’d love to speak with you. team@ourmanorpark.org.uk

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